UN, Libya vs Switzerland for More Votes for Human Rights
Council, 11th Hour News
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 13, updated -- Today's Human Rights
Council election at the UN is
considered so newsless, with 14 candidates for 14 seats, that even UN
TV was not present in front of the General Assembly at 10 am.
with Ambassadors, Inner City Press has learned of what passes for a
controversy: which country will get more votes, Libya or Switzerland?
human rights groups have urged that Libya not be voted for, the
campaign against Switzerland is more sotto voce, or at least, not in
English. Among the bases are Switzerland's minaret ban.
spokesman stood in front of the General Assembly. He told Inner City
Press that African countries always get a lot of votes. This is
called pre-spinning a result.
Gadafi in the UN General Assembly last year, Swiss not shown
Ambassador, Peter Maurer, is already moonlighting as a Swiss
minister, having visited Washington earlier this week in that
capacity while still chairing the UN's budget committee, which is
considering a restructuring of the UN Department of Field Support. We
need more details on that, a major Troop Contributing Country's
Ambassador told Inner City Press on Thursday morning.
UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, Are you voting for Libya? He asked in
return, Am I voting for the Lib-Dems?
Ambassador stopped but said, I'll speak afterwards. So will the US'
Susan Rice, which some think explains the belated set up of a UN TV
stakeout. Watch this site.
Update of 11:07 a.m.
-- It's been confirmed to Inner City Press that the UN TV stake out was
belatedly set up at the request of the US Mission. US Ambassador Susan
Rice went in to the GA at 11:02. Ban Ki-moon, Vijay Nambiar et al. left
the GA at 11:04, after the tribute to Nigeria's deceased president. Now
reporters begin to arrive, having been told that Rice will speak. "What
about?" one of them asks.
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and Libya Poised for Human Rights Council, Georgia - Russia Fight
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, May 12 -- There are only 14 candidates for the 14 seats on
the Human Rights Council up for election on May 13. Despite
opposition from some groups and requests by others, this almost
certainly means that each of the 14 candidates, including Libya and
Angola, will get elected to three year terms on the HRC, a body which
last year converted a draft condemning the Sri Lankan government's
murder of civilians into a final resolution praising the government.
opponents are imprisoned and disappear. In Angola, poor people are
summarily evicted to make way for projects, while oil revenue
continues to disappear. There are only two examples.
contested race that loomed for May 13 involved Iran running for a seat.
The country withdrew, however, in exchange for a spot on the UN
Commission on the Status of Women. Click here
for Inner City Press' Q&A
with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about how Iran would use that seat. US
Ambassador Susan Rice, being criticized for not opposing this Iran
seat, may speak on the topic after Thursday's vote.
the run up to
the election, Inner City Press asked the representatives of two NGOs
calling for the casting of empty ballots what they thought of the
place of human rights in the UN since Ban Ki-moon took over in 2007.
"Kofi Annan was good on these issues," replied Tom Melia of
Freedom House. "That's my answer."
UN's Ban and Gadafi, human rights off camera
UN Watch was more diplomatic, later providing Inner City Press with a
detailed explanation of how the voting could go on May 13. He was
responding to questions Inner City Press asked the spokesman for the
President of the General Assembly, Ali Treki of Libya:
City Press: Sure, Jean Victor. There was a presentation here in the
UN by two NGOs about the upcoming vote for the Human Rights Council,
countries to be on it. Among other things, they were urging, you
know, I guess Member States, to vote against Libya and some certain
other candidates for it. But it was unclear since the regional, and
I couldn’t really get a straight answer from them how this would
work, if the regional groups put forward only you know, two names for
two African slots. If in fact a country like Libya were not to
receive the 97 affirmative votes, what would be the procedure to
actually, to fill that slot? I mean, what is, is being named by a
regional group an automatic that you get the seat or is there some,
do they have some basis to say that by choosing not to vote, this
would somehow reopen it and another country could be elected?
Jean Victor Nkolo: I think we have to allow the General Assembly
proceedings to be implemented in the full transparency that the
Member States usually apply on these processes. Nothing is sealed,
nothing is automatic. That’s why you have a vote. And there are…
City Press: The vote is for two spots, with only two candidates. What
happens if people choose not, just choose, as these two NGOs
were urging, not to vote for one of the two. Then…?
There are many votes in the General Assembly and in other organs,
and in other proceedings of the UN when you have a limited number of
candidates or in some other instances, many candidates. So, we
should really not make a pronouncement on this very specific case. I
will not comment on the particular of a specific country.
City Press: [inaudible] I’m asking about the procedure, because
they seem to be urging people to simply not, you know, not vote, and
that this would somehow, you know, this could have an effect, is what
they were saying. They were also saying that if people write in
another country, that under the GA rules that is not supposed to be
recorded as a vote for another, for somebody that is actually not on
the ballot. But they say that it is.
What I will be very happy to do is to put you in touch with our
colleagues in the General Assembly Affairs who deal with these very
complex, intricate proceedings. But, I believe that Member States
should be given not only the chance, but also should be accepted as
partners in these proceedings and they implement it quite fairly and
transparently. If you do not have many candidates or if proceedings
lead to the conclusion that you take these are your own conclusions.
City Press: What I am asking, just to be clear, I am asking, this
was done, this was inside the UN, it was Freedom House and UN Watch,
they had a list, they have a report out; may be you can ask the
President Ali Treki if has any response to this type of lobbying by
NGOs. I just wanted to, you know, it’s a procedural…
Well, this is lobbying by NGOs. This has nothing to do with Member
States, per se. But, I will still ask the questions, and we will try
to find out on the proceedings side. But these are proceedings that
are set and that have to be implemented for the time being. I really
see no procedural problem that might have been infringed, per se.
of UN Watch
Matt, I saw your question to Jean Victor.... First,
please note that officially the regional groups are not the ones who
decide nominees, as you had indicated. Each country officially can
decide on its own. In practice, however, we all know it doesn’t
work that way, and that they tend to negotiate among themselves in
the regional groups.
is how the process works, as diplomats told us, based on UNGA Rule of
Procedure 94. A candidate may announce up itself to the actual first
round of voting, but we have never seen anyone wait that long to
announce. So regarding Libya on the African list — assuming it
remains what we call a “closed slate” of 4 names for 4 spots —
if Libya doesn’t get 97 the first time, leaving an empty space on
the African list, there are two more rounds held for that remaining
place. Only Libya’s name would appear on the ballot.
there is still no conclusive outcome after these 3 rounds of the 1st
ballot, the 2d set of three rounds begins and any name may be written
in, not only those on the first three rounds. This is called
“unrestricted” balloting. (It rarely goes this far.) A “new”
candidate does not take the microphone and say “we’re running”,
rather the delegates mull about the room and murmur as to what
country may be interested/available/desirous/amenable/etc. to being
placed on the ballot (this could all be pre-cooked, of course.) This
scenario plays out very, very infrequently. It goes back to
“restricted” for three and “unrestricted” again for three
until there is an outcome.
also answered 3 questions from Inner City Press:
Q - What
do you think will happen on May 13?
of UN Watch -- Unless Ambassador Susan Rice and her EU colleagues do
what UN Watch and 30 other NGOs asked them to do today — lead a
campaign to stop Qaddafi — I fear that the “closed slate”
politics will win the day and Libya will be elected, along with all
the others whom we rated as non-qualified or questionable. Let there
be no mistake: the election of Libya will be the most damaging thing
the 4-year-old Council has done to date. It’s not just the
brutality of the regime, but also the folly that its leader
exemplifies. He continues to hold a Swiss businessman hostage in a
Libyan jail; last week he gave an interview calling for the
dismemberment of Switzerland, which he called “a mafia”; now he’s
sending an envoy to the Swiss-based council?
City Press: What do you think of HRW's strategy of seeking
commitments from those who are going to run and win, as they put it?
of UN Watch – I think it’s well-intentioned, but question whether
the ones who really need to be held accountable will provide the rope
with which to hang them.
City Press: What do you think of next year's battles on the horizon?
of UN Watch – The new membership will make the OIC even more
powerful and lower the democratic minority even further.
for next year will be Georgia running for a seat, which Russia is
expected to oppose. Inner City Press has asked the Russian Mission --
which said generally that Russia loves the Georgian people, just not
the government -- watch this site.
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